Scientists discount fish story predictor of big quake; Volcano activity remains low; Cuenca mountain climber killed in fall; Tax collections are up sharply

Aug 2, 2022 | 2 comments

Ecuador geophysicists say there is no scientific connection between the appearance of a rarely seen tropical fish and the recent rash of earthquakes. They add that the story that oarfish sightings are predictors of a major earthquake is a “folktale, part of popular legend,” with no basis in fact.

According to folk legend in the tropics, the appearance of the elusive oarfish is a predictor of impending major earthquakes.

According to Ecuador fishery experts, at least five oarfish have been reported seen or caught in Ecuadorian Pacific waters since late July. “Typically, we receive only one or two reports a year of oarfish so this is unusual,” a Navy Fisheries officer in Puerto Lopez said Sunday. He confirmed that there were a large number of oarfish sightings ahead of the 7.8 magnitude 2016 earthquake but said he believed it was only a coincidence.

Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute has recorded a 40 percent increase in earthquakes since July 18, many of them related to seismic activity near the Chiles Cerro Negro and Sangay volcanoes. A magnitude 5.2 earthquake destroyed and damaged hundreds of structures July 26, near Chiles Cerro Negro in Carchi Province. Other significant earthquakes have been centered in Guayas, Cañar and Tungurahua Provinces.

Oarfish are large snake-like lampriform fish that live in tropical and temporate ocean waters. Rarely seen or caught, they are exceptionally long-lived and, in rare cases, can grow to nine meters (30 feet) in length.

Tax collections up sharply
An indication that Ecuador’s economy is improving, the Internal Revenue Service reports that collections of all taxes during the first half of 2022 increased 26 percent over the same period in 2021. The Value Added, or VAT tax, collection increased by 28 percent from 2021 while income tax receipts were up 29 percent.

“As we continue our recovery, the tax collection numbers are a strong indicator of an improving economy,” the SRI said in a statement. “In addition to the Covid pandemic, we have been badly affected by the war in Ukraine as well as recent strikes, but we believe we are coming out of these adverse events.”

Cuenca attorney Roberto Suárez

Cuencano mountaineer dies in fall
One of Ecuador’s most acclaimed mountain climbers died Monday when he fell into a crevasse on 6-768-meter Mount Huascarán in Peru. According to news reports, Cuenca attorney Roberto Suárez died of injuries sustained in a 20-meter fall.

In his 10-year mountain-climbing career, Suárez, 28, climbed all of South America’s tallest peaks as well as many in Asia, Africa and Europe. He summited Mount Everest in 2019.

Activity at Sangay volcano remains low
The Geophysical Institute reported Monday afternoon that the intensity of the eruption at the Sangay volcano remains low. Lava flows were observed on the flanks of the volcano but decreased in volume during the day, the institute said in a statement.

On Sunday, ashfall from the eruption was reported in Guayaquil, 179 kilometers away, as well as in agricultural areas of Chimborazo and Bolívar Provinces. According to the Institute, “very light” ashfall was observed Monday up to 50-kilometers west of the volcano.

Explosions from the Saturday night eruption were heard up to 200 kilometers from Sangay, including in Guayas and Azuay Provinces.

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